Introducing Comprehensive Meta analysis (CMA) software

By Yashika Kapoor and Priya Chetty on December 24, 2017

The Comprehensive Meta-analysis (CMA) software is a user-friendly and diverse software. It is capable of handling and executing multiple tests involved in performing Meta-analysis. The present module article, introduces the user to the software’s interface, focusing upon various functionalities of lite version of CMA software. It is an easy to understand and user-friendly version, before advancing onto the other tools of the Professional version.

Interface of the comprehensive meta analysis (CMA) software
Interface of the comprehensive meta analysis (CMA) software

As shown in above image, upon starting the software, the interface offers a dialog box. Here 5 options are available as follows:

  • “Run the tutorial”- It takes the user through the basic functionalities, introducing him/her with the interface.
  • “Start a blank spreadsheet”- Start a new project on a blank spreadsheet. Insert data entry columns assuitable.
  • “Start a new spreadsheet using a template”.
  • “Open an existing file”- Open an existing CMA spreadsheet.
  • “Import data from another program”- Import data from other programs such as Excel, STATA or SPSS.

Supposedly, “Start a blank spreadsheet” is selected, then the software interface will be, as shown in the below image.

Blank spreadsheet in CMA
Blank spreadsheet in CMA

Options on the toolbar of CMA

This section introduces different types of options as offered by the interface. The different options and tools help in effectively designing the worksheet for analysis.

File and edit Menu

The image below shows the “File and Edit menus”. In the file menu, open a new blank spreadsheet or a template, along with other basic functionalities. The Edit menu offers different options to edit the spreadsheet with particular editing options for a row, study or an entire column.

File and Edit menus of CMA
File and Edit menus of CMA

Format and insert Menu

Besides editing, formatting of the data entered in the spreadsheet, according to the type of data can be done. The image below shows the options under “Format and Insert menus”. The Insert menu in CMA is very important, as it offers options to design the spreadsheet. The Lite version offers only the “Study Names” option, which is appropriate for the present level of discussion. The advanced version offer subgroup, time points, multiple outcomes and comparison column options.

The effect size data option offers the pre-defined array of data entry formats, to enter the relevant data for analysis. Effect size is the magnitude of size and direction of the difference between the different experimental groups, which could be interpreted in terms of correlation, means or percentage (Durlak 2009). The moderator variable option allows entering a third variable, the moderator variable. It holds relevance for performing the Meta-regression analysis and will be discussed further in another article. Inserting blank rows or studies in the existing worksheet using the Blank row or rows and Study name option is easy.

Format and Insert menu in CMA
Format and Insert menu in CMA 

Tools and computational options

The image below shows the options offered in “Tools and Computational Analysis” menu. The “Tools” menu offers different options for customizing the data display, wherein customization of the display of effect size computed by the software can be attained. The “Computational Options” tab offers different types of effect size indices which the software can compute. The lite version offers the basic four indices of effect size, i.e the correlation for imputing paired SD, the variance for mean difference, symmetry for confidence intervals and variance for Hedge’s g. The “Identify” tab helps in customizing data as per the software’s interface. It allows identification of different categories such as study names and effect size data, for the analysis. It will be delved upon in detail in the next article.

Tools and Computational Analysis menu
Tools and Computational Analysis menu

Toolbar with quick options

The image below shows the toolbar which offers with quick access to different options. The toolbar provides ease of running the analysis, entering the data using the “Insert column for effect size data” and the ability to customize the display of computed effect sizes. All of which will be demonstrated in the subsequent articles.

Different options offered in the toolbar
Different options offered in the toolbar

Consequently, all of the above shown features introduces the basic software interface. It gives an insight into basic maneuvering across the software.


  • Durlak, J.A., 2009. How to select, calculate and interpret effect sizes. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(9), pp.917–928.
Data entry formats in CMA
Yashika Kapoor


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